Playing ball or going on vacation?

Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics

The UVU softball team went to Hawaii Feb. 26-28 to compete in the Bank of Hawaii Invitational. They played six games, three against Portland State and three against the University of Hawaii. The results weren’t quite what the team hoped for as they were winless on the trip.

But this isn’t about the outcome of the games during that trip. It’s more about what was posted on Instagram and Twitter by the players during their trip that concerns me. In a picture on the Instagram account of a freshman infielder, there is a picture of her doing a handstand on the beach the day of the first game in Hawaii. Later on the various Twitter accounts of the athletes, there are pictures of some of the players paddle boarding on a surfboard. Looking at these pictures raises a few questions. First, if I were on a team that lost 99 games out of 139 in over two years, should I really be out on the beach having a good time or should I be watching film, taking batting practice, and doing things to get better? Also, according to Associate Athletic Director of Finance and Business Operations Nikki Scott, 31 percent of the funds the athletic department receives from student fees go toward travel. Why should the students foot the bill for these athletes to have fun and basically have a vacation?

Athletes on other teams at UVU have said that when they go on trips they practice, eat, study, and play the game. They don’t get the opportunity to go sightseeing or hang out at the beach if you will. So why is the softball team so privileged?

I understand that people will argue that because of the weather, scheduling a home contest makes it tough during this time of year. They will also argue that UVU was invited to go there and it’s not every year they get to go to the Hawaiian Islands. But the thing to remember is that it wasn’t a vacation; it was to compete in softball. Is it really fair to the students who are paying for the travel for the softball team to go out and have a good time rather than focus on softball?

In an interview prior to the season beginning UVU head coach Nikki Palmer said that when they go on the road, “it is all about ball and focusing on getting the job done.” And that is the way it should be. Posting pictures of the team playing on the beach or in the ocean during one of those road trips doesn’t look good, especially when the team doesn’t win even one game during that trip.

I love sports. I love watching them, covering them, and writing about them. To clarify, I want to see the softball team play well. But when athletes go on a trip to play softball or baseball or whatever sport, that’s what it should be about, especially if you’re not the one paying for it. Let’s not forget that students, through their student fees, pay for the travel on road trips. Is it fair for the students to foot the bill for a trip when the main focus might not be on softball? It may be time to re-focus on what the real purpose of those road games are.

Update: The tweets have since been deleted and we have been blocked from the accounts at the current time.


5 thoughts on “Playing ball or going on vacation?

  1. @kylemcdonald. I really don’t understand the point of this article. You obviously had nothing better to write about and spent a little too much time on these girls social medias. Every coach I or anyone else has ever encountered had made bonding and/or being able to be comfortable with each other and have a better relationship a BIG priority. Yes I would also love to see the team do a little bit more better but preferably the right way where they figure it out and get out of the rut together instead of the way you’re implying. That’s not a fun expierence for anyone. And I’m not sure who you talked to but any sports team regardless of records and how much money goes towards travel or anything. They would too be enjoying the expierence with their team. So your opinion is invalid irrelevant and unwanted

  2. This is probably the most ridiculous article I have ever seen posted by the UVU review. As an avid Utah Valley sports follower I’m saddened to see such negatively shed upon these women. If you were any kind of reporter you would actually look at the stats of the game. Each of them were well fought battles between the teams resulting in exceptionally close scores. It’s not like they weren’t competing. Not to mention the fact that they went to the beach long after any competition was being held. So Mr. McDonald, if you were any kind of sports reporter, you would pay more attention to the game, rather than the athlete’s social media pages.

  3. Um, no, this is NOT a ridiculous article. The athletics department is a big organization, surely it can take some scrutiny. The writer made it clear he’s just raising some concerns, and they’re fairly valid, even if not necessarily new. These are the questions being raised across the country, about how athletics are funded and if the funds are being used wisely. This is especially applicable at UVU, where each student pays literally over $100/semester that goes to athletics. Sorry, but if students are paying that much, you can’t tell any of them (especially a reporter whose job it is to ask these kind of questions) to not examine the athletics budget. This is a good article; it starts a discussion.

  4. I agree that this article raises some valid concerns and questions. Coaches and athletes should be held accountable for what they spend the students money on.

  5. If you take offense to this article or view this as strictly negative, you’re either missing the point or too blinded by your association with the UVU softball team.

    If you don’t think coaches and athletes should be held accountable for what the student body affords them to do, you shouldn’t be associated with college athletics.

    If you think concerning yourself with the “stats” of the game is most important, you’re delusional. Sure, you can get moral victories for your team when you battle it out in a close, hard-fought game, but WINNING is what defines a program, whether you like it or not.

    Maybe the UVU softball team should’ve helped pay the bill for a reporter to cover the Hawaii trip if they think he did such a terrible job at it. There must be room in the budget to have one more person go based on the staggering numbers that come out of student fees.

    The fact that these posts of the team in Hawaii have been deleted prove the reporter was right to report what was happening. Instead of the players or coaches coming forward and saying we figured some R & R might help clear our team’s mind and get them to refocus since we’re having an abysmal season, (no wins since February 21st, currently 4-22), or something of that nature, they’re acting poorly and blaming the media.

    The Review is its own, independent publication. It has every right to report the truth of what’s going on even if it doesn’t paint everything going on at UVU in a perfect light. I hope the softball team uses this to realize things need to change in order to be successful instead of feeling personally attacked and playing the blame game.

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